Monday, July 30, 2007


...a knitting term. For backyard whiffle ball fans, the equivalent of a "do over". Frogging something means removing the work from the needles to pull out stitches until you reach a point before your mistake. You then put the work back on the needles and resume. Of course this means redoing rows of work, and paying attention to what went wrong and where. Or if you're like me - you guess at what might have gone wrong and frog to the last row you know you think you've done right and resume from there.

Can you use knitting terms for the office? Can I say that most of my job seems to involve frogging in one way or another? Our newly adopted software system has caused more frog like reworks and work-arounds than I really want to think about. I am often amazed at how functional the staff here manage to be when surrounded by so much process and policy chaos. Other terms come to mind that I'd like to apply... dropping a stitch, work and turn...

Today I learned that we have to "frog" sixty five appointment letters. The template we were originally told to use (and we did check!) was not the right one and was apparently overly complicated (pencil pusher speak for "needs too many signatures"). By all means, let us do it the hard way first... sixty. five. times. Let the boss sign his name to those sixty five letters, and we'll make copies to file, and pass along to the next person in the Please Sign Here list. THEN tell us that what actually should happen has fewer steps and is a more direct way to do things. When you call us to tell us this, beat around the bush and begin by saying that we sure do have a lot of letters for you to process, more than last year. Explain in detail how this adds to your workload. Slip in the mention of a new and "more appropriate" template. After twenty minutes of what you probably like to call process analysis, make sure you draw out the ominous and pregnant pause that follows my question "What you're saying is that we need to redo all of these letters". Acknowledge in a breezy, friendly way that it's a "big fat pain in the butt". Speak in a constructive manner about "working together and not against each other" while making it clear that the butt the big fat pain is in should actually be mine and not yours. Yes, thank you. Please frog yourself.

Monday, July 23, 2007

...and it continues.

Tomato Update:

Surprise! The two year old nuisance downstairs has been hard at work. I had moved the tomato plants up to our upper level deck to try to keep them out of her sight, but she found them anyway. I had nine tomatoes out there, just waiting until they went all red and juicy on me. Now, there are three. Initially, because I had already talked to the landlord and the parents and had been most assuredly assured that she would never be allowed out of their sight and up our steps, I thought maybe it was raccoons or something, and there were only two missing at that point. Then the other day I went out and found two of them on the ground next to the pots with suspicious looking teeth marks. These weren't animal teeth. These were kid teeth. Like she had plucked it off and bit into it like an apple. She didn't like the first one, so she tried another. WTF?!?!?!?! So, I talked to the landlord again who couldn't believe that they were the type of parents who would let their kid out of their sight. I also talked to the parents who said they never let the kid out of their sight. So, apparently the problem here would seem to be me. Hah! Yesterday the mother was doing laundry in the basement with the door to the backyard open. I was in the kitchen, and saw the nuisance trekking across the backyard (alone, I might add) to try to open the next door neighbor's door. Mom starts yelling for her to come back. Next she heads up our steps to our deck, at which point I went outside and scared the crap out of her, sending her back down the stairs screaming. No, I did not touch this child. Maybe I'm just scary. In my opinion, letting this kid out of the apartment is a hazard to her because we're on a busy street with all sorts of riff-raff drivers, and to all of us as well. Don't tell me you never let her out of your sight, because that's obviously a bald-faced lie. Just to clarify things, when you are in the basement and your kid is outside - if you can't see her - she is out of your sight! I'm so angry about those tomatoes I could just spit.

In case that isn't enough to convince me that I'm right to never have children, there was just an interesting episode downstairs in their kitchen. I really don't try to be nosy, but if our windows and theirs are open, I'm at their mercy and hear everything. Now, I'm not above using what I hear in a blog post, but really, I didn't go looking for this. I was sitting at the kitchen table having a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch when I hear the mother start shrieking and wailing. "Oh, Emily, how could you!?!?!" Then the nuisance starts wailing because she's been yelled at. The incoherent wailing goes on and it becomes clear that the nuisance has drawn all over the kitchen table with permanent markers and ruined it. The mother goes on to say that she will not be getting any more permanent markers until she is five! Well, way to solve that problem, mom! You go! Ummmm...are you aware that fine companies like Crayola make washable markers? They're made just for two year olds who have no impulse control. You should really look in to that. Maybe I'll put some in their mailbox, you know, 'cause I'm nice like that.

Now, see, this is really bringing out the worst in me. I think I'll go knit some socks.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Summer of Socks Update

With the cooler weather over the past week, I've made some progress on these socks. This one is Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in the Simply Sock Yarn special colorway. It doesn't really show up very well from a distance, but I'm working on a cross-over rib pattern.

This is where I'm currently at with the sock I originally started with. One sock completed, second one actually cast on! This is a major break through for me, since second sock syndrome is more of an epidemic around here. I have so much yarn waiting in the stash that I get distracted and want to immediately cast on another yarn and pattern. This is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in the Icehouse colorway, knit in the Cross-Hatch Lace pattern from More SKS. I don't usually name my socks (mostly because there are so few completed pairs) but I'm calling this one "Jump in the Ocean" because of a comment from Kate. It seems to fit, as long as the ocean in question is somewhere tropical. It certainly doesn't describe the ocean around here!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I finally got an invitation to Ravelry!!! Finally, I can feel like one of the cool kids! I've spent lots of time over there filling up my notebook, and I have to agree with everyone else that this is going to be a huge time sucker. If you're already on, come over and see! I'm slowly putting things in my notebook to share. I say slowly, because we're too cheap to have anything but dial-up service, but I really think that's going to have to change. I don't see anyway around it. If you aren't on already, definitely go put yourself on the beta testing wait list. I had to wait for over a month, because they're slowing trying to get this site up and running, but I have to say, I think it's going to be amazing! Anyone out there reading this already on Ravelry? I'd love to find some friends out there.

Friday, July 06, 2007

And So It Begins...

We have lived in our current place for a year now. This has been the first time in six years that there hasn't been some unbearable issue with the other people in our building, and it's been wonderful. All that has ended now. A new reign of terror has begun.

We live in a duplex, and this has worked out pretty well. We weren't friends with the two girls who lived downstairs, but we were friendly and everyone seemed happy with it. We didn't bother them, they didn't bother us. Sadly, they moved out last weekend. The new tenants are a husband and wife and their two year old daughter. They just moved in yesterday, and already our life has been adversely affected by them. We are great respecters of space and property. We don't mess with anyone else's stuff. We expect the same in return. I don't have very much hope that this will be the case.

I'm not going to rant about the state of children today, or the parents who seem to bear no responsibility for their children. That's a page for another day. And as a preview, it would be a very long page. However, my thoughts about that do have some bearing here. The child in question is two, so I hold nothing against her. At that age, the parents should be the ones responsible for their behavior.

It starts out with the child running back and forth across the length of the building, shrieking at the top of her lungs. Then she gets out in to the communal hallway, runs screaming up the stairs to our front door and starts trying to open our door. I hear the mother telling her to be careful on the stairs. Not, "don't bother those nice people," just "be careful on the stairs." No, I have a better idea. Why don't you come get your shrieking kid and get her away from our door. The door opens directly into our living room, and silly us, we like a little peace and quiet in the evening.

Next, I hear someone on our back steps. It's the kid. These stairs run from the back yard up to our back door, where we have a private little deck. This is where my tomato plants and herbs are growing. It's private. It's ours. Not anymore. This child is out there completely alone, digging dirt out from the planters with the tomatoes. Who the hell lets a two year old run around alone in the backyard? Where the hell are her parents? This may sound extreme, but if anything happens to those f***ing tomatoes, I'm going to lose it. Seriously.

I'm trying to be understanding about all the noise related to moving, because I know that's difficult. But the moving truck sitting in the driveway beeping (you know, that obnoxious beeping that you get when backing up? They weren't backing up, they were just beeping) under our bedroom window at ten-thirty last night? Not cool.

They have apparently decided that they want the parking spaces we've been using for the past year. Now, I don't really care which side of the flipping driveway I'm on, but is there absolutely no courtesy anymore? Ask. That would have been polite.

They have decided to keep the communal front door locked when they are home, which appears to be all the time. How do people pay rent when they don't have jobs? I really would like to get on that train. I don't care about the front door except that the lock has no key. When I park on the street, I can't get in to my house anymore.

There are two storage areas in the basement. One for us, one for them. We don't have a lot of stuff, but it's there in a small, yet obvious pile in a corner. I went down this morning to find that they had piled ALL THEIR SHIT from floor to ceiling in our storage unit. I can't even see my stuff, let alone get to it. There isn't a speck of anything in their storage unit directly to the right. What kind of people do that? "Huh, someone else's stuff is here. Oh, well. Too bad."

I'm just at a loss. I don't know how other people can behave this way. I don't know how to talk to them about this with out starting an on-going feud. I just want a little respect from these people. Is that so wrong?

Monday, July 02, 2007

Speed Post

I'm not making much progress on my socks for the Summer of Socks. This is as far as I have gotten on my first one, and I seem to have stalled a little bit. It was so hot last week that I was too cranky and tired to do much knitting when I was at home. Now, even though it is certainly cooler, I haven't picked it back up. I really love the pattern and the way the colors are coming out here, so lack of interest isn't a problem. There's just been so much going on. Summer is here, which means that every spare moment seems to have been planned a week in advance. We have such a short summer up here that it feels like we're wasting precious time if we're just sitting around. I need to learn to relax and stop feeling guilty if I want some time to lie around being lazy. Anyway, enough self analysis. Another reason I haven't been finishing this sock is the Design Contest. I have been scribbling notes for the last week or so with the hope that I can come up with a great pattern and win some of that great stuff over at SoS2007! I've tried three different ones so far, and they will all make perfectly nice socks, but they aren't everything I want them to be yet.

And just so you don't think this is all I do, here are a few outdoorsy/gardeny pictures. I know that the leaves in the background are in far better focus that the rest of the picture, but yes, those are teeny-tiny tomatoes! They're still alive! And blooming! Whoo-hoo!

And these...well, I can't take credit for planting them, but these are the roses that are spilling out over our steps. I can think of worse ways to start my day than walking past these.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

A stitch in time

I met an old roommate yesterday outside a home-junk chain store. We see each other now and again, but never have enough time to do more than laugh over a few memories. We laughed a LOT this time. So much so that eventually discussion of my hiking plans for Sunday and the location of her home (at the base of a mountain) was kismet.

It was a foggy day at the top of Mt. Abe, but the woods were beautiful. The rocky trails dripped greenly with moss and ferns, the air was clear and cool and wet. We spent only enough time at the summit to chug some water and toss some gorp into our mouths - it was too cold to hang out. Our descent was hard on the knees, but like the hike up, good for conversation. We talked about old friends and acquaintances, we caught up on the 16 years between that first year of college and our lives now.

We talked about work and relationships, about biking cross country and divorce. She admitted that she liked the feel of yarn in her hand, and lamented that she could not just hold it and will it into a sweater. Apparently a knitting friend has been working at her (a bit unsuccessfully). We both share the experience of learning crochet from our mothers while also being in tears over the learning process. If she likes to hold the yarn... it's only a matter of time...

We talked about an old dormmate, one Sean O'Flaherty Fahey who was, in his first year at school, quick with the sarcastic quip and smug smile. He was one of those folks who poked at our fresh college shells with sharp and sometimes painful wit. Often we snapped back in defense, sometimes we had good conversations. We wondered, during our hike, what had become of him. Google provides the answer - after three engineering degrees and a rich life of educating himself about the things he loved, he died surfing on a beach in California a winter ago. I was dumbstruck. The article in the California paper was quite well written - thoughtful and reflective about Sean as a person. I read it and felt I was experiencing statistics happening, both at the personal and objective level. These things happen to the people you know, and you might never learn about it. I'd been imagining Sean's life still in progress, full of quirks and quips as ever. I'm saddened that that is not the case.

I'm delighted that my roommate and I found each other again. While I needed ibuprofen and a hot shower after the hike, I enjoyed it immensely. My friend is simple and honest company, a woman with a large heart and an easy laugh. Maybe I'll teach her to knit, maybe not. We'll certainly be spending more time together, and I know I'll be able to talk with her about the strangeness of rediscovering old friends - those you can spend time with and those you can not.